December 15, 2020
Law360 named Latham & Watkins a 2020 Sports & Betting Group of the Year as part of their annual Practice Group of the Year awards that honor the law firms behind the major deals and litigation wins that resonated throughout the legal industry in the past year. In particular, the legal publication recognized the firm for multiple litigation victories for the US Soccer Federation, a deal for Caesars Entertainment growing its partnership with sports-media giant ESPN, and a deal in which Silver Lake Partners invested in City Football Group, owner of recent English Premier League Champion Manchester City FC, and other soccer teams around the world.
"Latham just has a commitment to this particular industry sector with the resources we are bringing to bear with it to create a seamless global platform," said Joseph Calabrese, Global Chair of the firm's Entertainment, Sports & Media Industry Group, in the published profile. "I do think that is a unique offering in this space."
New York partner Chris Yates spoke to Law360 about the firm’s two litigation wins for the U.S. Soccer Federation. The first was a high profile discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team. The second, was an antitrust suit filed by Relevent Sports in the Southern District of New York. Relevent sued after USSF refused to sanction regular season league matches between foreign teams for play in the US, as required by FIFA’s rules. Latham won a motion to compel arbitration on one of Relevent’s claims and a motion to dismiss the other.
On the deal front, Latham represented Caesars Entertainment in a multi-year agreement with ESPN. Expanding on Caesars’ role as ESPN’s exclusive odds provider (a deal on which Latham represented Caesars last year), this new deal makes Caesars the co-exclusive link-out partner of ESPN. By including Caesars’ link integrations across ESPN digital platforms ESPN is connecting fans to Caesars sportsbooks and those of Caesars’s sports betting partner, William Hill.
Said Latham partner and Law360 2020 Sports & Betting MVP Adam Sullins, “I think that deal highlights the growth in the U.S. of sports betting and its impact on the sports industry as a whole.”
Law360 also recognized a Latham cross-border team that represented Silver Lake, a global leader in technology investing, in a $500 million equity investment in City Football Group (CFG), a private owner and operator of soccer clubs around the world, equivalent to just over 10% of the company's post-investment value. The deal values City Football Group, the owner of Premier League Champions Manchester City FC, New York City FC, Melbourne City FC, Yokohama F. Marinos in Japan, Club Atletico Torque in Uruguay, Girona FC in Spain, and Sichuan Jiuniu FC in China, at $4.8 billion post-investment.